Monday, April 28, 2008

Star Parker drew a large crowd and standing ovations to UST

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After originally being denied to speak on campus, Parker drew a large crowd and standing ovations.

A little controversy did not stop a large and engaged crowd from turning out to hear Star Parker speak about “Abortion in America.”

Parker is the founder and president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education. CURE is a non-profit that weighs in on issues of race and poverty in the media, inner-city neighborhoods and public policy. She spoke from her own experiences of being on welfare and having four abortions at 7 p.m. April 21 in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium.

The message Parker emphasized many times throughout her speech was that “abortion hurts.”

“[Abortion] doesn’t just hurt the baby,” Parker said. “It doesn’t just hurt the children, the siblings. Nor does it just hurt the teenager … or the women, or the men … it hurts God.”

The student life committee originally voted against bringing Parker to campus March 6 because of concerns with the involvement of the Young America’s Foundation, according to Vice President for Student Affairs Jane Canney.

The foundation has a history of sending speakers to campus who refuse to sign the performer’s agreement, Canney said.

After students and community members spoke out against the decision, the university reconsidered and invited Parker to campus April 14. Parker speaks on issues like welfare and abortion. On Monday she spoke about the lifelong effects abortions have on women and men. She said these effects often catch up to them when they get older.

Abortion can also scar teenagers for life, Parker said. She told a story of a 15- year-old who was sent to an abortion
clinic by her school nurse, when that was not what she wanted. Parker drew on her own experiences of having four abortions and being on welfare as a mother before turning to Jesus. Her thoughts on abortion then changed and she said, “that it may be legal, but it is not lawful.

“It wasn’t until the fourth time after I went into one of their so-called ‘safe, legal care clinics’ that I felt a gut instinct
right away that there has to be something wrong with killing your offspring,” she said. “I was just growing tired of using abortion as my birth control.”

She referred to one position of people as P.O.B.s: “personally opposed, but.” “They’ll say, ‘Well, I’m personally opposed,
but.’ But what?” Parker said. “But you think that it’s OK for others to get locked into this mindset where they start on a journey in left-wing liberalism… that there are no absolute rules anymore?”

Parker said this mindset of secular humanism has taken over our society. Parker also said God codemns abortion but is still forgiving. Junior Natalie Hafner, president of Students for Human Life, was concerned when Parker was first denied from coming to campus, but wrote in an e-mail to The Aquin that she was glad Parker had a chance to speak.

“I thought that she addressed everything in a very tactful way,” Hafner said. “Her message is one that not many people are receptive to hearing, but I thought that her presentation of the issues was done well.”

Hafner said things could have been done differently on everyone’s part to bring Parker to St. Thomas, Hafner said.

“But I am just glad we were given the opportunity to hear her and have her on campus,” she said. Alumna and founder of the St. Thomas Standard, Katie Kieffer, wrote in an e-mail to The Aquin that she thought Parker gave a
wonderful speech by using her personal experiences and testimonies.

“I am delighted St. Thomas reversed its decision and allowed our pro-life speaker on campus,” Kieffer said. “It is disappointing though to think that without extensive media and alumnae pressure that St. Thomas would have quietly rejected a speaker who espouses the values that are supposed to be the bedrock of the University of St. Thomas.”

Junior Sarah Northenscold said she enjoyed Parker’s speech and was not aware of the controversy until reading about it in The Aquin.

Parker also commented in her speech about the circumstances surrounding her arrival to St. Thomas. At the start of her speech she said she was glad to be here and she referred to the controversy as what “some might just say [is] a
misunderstanding.” “I didn’t realize I had so many friends here,” Parker said. This comment was met with applause.

In a question and answer session after her speech, Parker said she has trouble getting onto some college campuses to speak. “Of course this one kind of surprised me, and not just that it was a Catholic university with the subject, because the subject usually doesn’t get them all riled up,” she said.

The crowd erupted into applause many times throughout the speech and gave her two standing ovations, at the end of her speech and after the question and answer session.

Margaret Cahill, director of Campus Life, introduced Parker and said the university has a process to bring speakers to campus that it is consistent with, and that sometimes student groups get frustrated with the process. She said she was glad Parker came for the students who wanted to hear her speak.

“I thought it was fine,” Cahill said. “I think the controversy was unfortunate. It never really was about her.” The Aquin
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